Proud and Scared Both
Posted at 10:49AM - Comments: (15)
In the past few months, to accommodate a shifting family situation, I’ve moved my “home office” out of my home, twice. First to a rented office space, which I hated (after 14 years of being able to go to the kitchen or back yard or to go take a nap any time I wanted to!). Then my husband and I bought a second house in a short sale, to use as my office, extra space for extra family members, and a fix-up project. It’s two blocks from our home, and Otto and I walk (and bike) from house to house several times a day. This house has a fenced backyard; the front yard is unfenced. The street is about 30 feet from the front door.
Why all the trivia?
Because it might help you visualize what happened to me just the other day. I clipped a leash onto Otto’s collar, grabbed a few things, and then we walked out the front door of the new house/office onto the porch; we were about to go home for dinner. Otto had just woken up and was yawning and stretching next to me on the porch, dragging his leash. I turned around to lock the front door behind us, and suddenly Otto roared and launched off the front steps at high speed, headed straight for the street. And in the same moment that my brain registered the fact that Otto was running toward the street, I also heard a car or truck approaching. I screamed, even as I was turning around, “OTTO OFF!”
Why “OFF”? It was instinctive. I thought that he must be chasing something – which turned out to be the case. And we’ve worked on “off” a lot: “Off” the cat, “Off” the chickens, “Off” the cat food,” “Off” the UPS driver, “Off” the plate of food sitting on the coffee table.
As I finished my turn toward the street, my brain registered the sight of Otto flying down the last step before the sidewalk, dragging his leash behind him. And a strange cat, fleeing, but hovering right at the curb. And a pickup truck traveling from our left to our right, fast.
And then my “OFF!” registered in Otto’s brain, and he screeched to a halt, practically in mid-air. And both the approaching truck and Otto’s halt registered in the cat’s brain, and the cat turned left, hard, and raced up the sidewalk. I don’t think the truck driver’s brain registered any of this. We were about one second away from a dead cat for sure, and surely a badly injured dog, if not a dead one. And a massively regretful, sorrowful person (me).
I was frozen for a second, and then Otto turned and bounded back toward me, tail high, eyes shining. “Ha!” he seemed to say. “Didja see that? I showed THAT cat what’s what,” he bragged, all puffed up. And I burst into tears as I buried my face in his fur, patting and hugging him. “Good boy, Otto. GOOD dog. Wow! WHAT a good boy!” I was still shaking 10 minutes later.
So I learned a lesson. Even with a quiet street, and a great dog, I can’t take anything for granted. I need to hold that leash as we walk out the door -- or at least scope out what is going on outside before letting the dog through a door that leads to the street. And we’ll keep practicing “OFF!” Every day, folks, every day. Training pays.